Originally Published March 17, 2007. Update: Homeschooler flees foster care to reunite with her family. Both sides are sure they have the monopoly on truth when it comes to the taking of a homeschooled German girl by State authorities. The undisputed truth is that Germany is not friendly to homeschooling families.
She was falling behind in two of her subjects at school. So her parents took her out of school and began homeschooling her where they could devote more time to her education. Her five siblings are still in the German public schools.
It is being claimed by some news organizations that a Hitler decree about home-schooling is still in effect.
In 1937, the dictator said, "The Youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled. This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing."
The Home School Legal Defense Association reports that several families have been forced by the state to put the children back in the public schools.
German law still requires public education for all children.
In the case of Melissa Busekros, if a hand-written letter by her can be trusted, she wants to be back with her family again. She is currently in a foster home, and her family members are allowed to see her once a week.
By why is she in the foster home? The family says that their rights are being taken away, plain and simple. But the German authorities have a different version:
However the Erlangen authorities deny that the case is related to the parents' decision to take the girl out of school. "The case has nothing to do with home schooling," Edeltraud Höllerer from the Erlangen Youth Welfare Office told SPIEGEL ONLINE, adding she could not discuss details of the case for legal reasons.
It's hard, based on scant evidence, to know what the truth is. But the other five children are still in the family home. Germany has a no-tolerance policy for homeschooling. Melissa's letter said she wants to be back with her family.
In response to the family's plea, Wolfgang Drautz, consul general of the Federal Republic of Germany, said
If we are to achieve integration, not only must the majority of the population prevent the ostracization of religious minorities or minorities with different world views, but minorities must also remain open and engage in dialogue with those who think differently or share different beliefs.
Article 7 of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany (the German constitution) places the entire school system under the supervision of the government and ensures that the government makes education available to every citizen. Homeschool may be equally effective in terms of test scores. It is important to keep in mind, however, that school teaches not only knowledge but also social conduct, encourages dialogue among people of different beliefs and cultures, and helps students to become responsible citizens.
A German court recently decided in favor of the state, saying in effect that state planning trumps parental desires.
I side with the family and against the state.
Update April 23, 2007 - To the surprise of her parents, Melissa showed up at her family's home at 3 AM this morning. She left a note for her foster family telling them she was leaving. Her birthday was today, and as a result of having turned 16 years of age, her legal status has changed. Good for her and her family. It's unfortunate that the German government felt they had power to intervene in the family's life in such an unnatural way in the first place.